The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/19/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. And thank you, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
In the past hour, President Obama has wrapped up a late in the day
press conference in Mexico, before he got back onboard Air Force One to
travel back from the two-day G-20 Summit in Los Cabos.
You know, they have to really feel for the Mitt Romney campaign on a
day like today. I mean, this is one of those days that it has to feel
frustrating to be running against an incumbent president just in terms of
the optics you can arrange for your candidate`s daily schedule. I mean,
today, the guy who is not president but who wants to be president was in a
pie shop, rolling out dough – literally, dough, in front of reporters,
being seen to be making a pie. His wife, Ann Romney, posing with a cookie
in the shape of a mitten. Because – we drop the bug. Mitten shaped.
It`s funny, and this is helping for the optics because her husband`s
name is Mitt, as in mitten. They were in Michigan – Michigan kind of
looks like a mitten. So, it was Mitt and his wife looking at a mitten that
shaped by Michigan. It`s marvelous. Optics on one side.
Optics on the other side, the man that Mr. Guy with the mitten is
running against, holding a series of bilateral meetings with the leaders of
the most powerful leaders on earth, announcing global economic agreements,
working to come to terms on various ongoing wars, holding a nationally
televised press availability with the White House press corps.
This sort of day for President Obama is the day in the life of a
sitting U.S. president.
And in competitive terms for the campaign, it`s hard to compete with
those optics if you`re the guy in the pie shop campaigning against the
president. But that is the way these things go. Everybody who campaigns
against an incumbent president has this particular challenge.
Globally, of course, the context for President Obama`s speech today
was not just the international economic turbulence that still has everybody
on edge and about which the G-20 leaders make their joint declaration
But the pressing immediate context today was also what`s going on in
the Middle East. It was the wild rumors today over whether or not the
ousted dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, had died.
We will have more on that. Richard Engel is live in Egypt for us.
We`ll be talking with him.
But it was also the news and negotiations over another Arab world
revolution that is still under way. When President Obama sat down
yesterday for a two-hour meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia, as often
happens at these types of events, there was all this press-based, high-end
nuance, scrutiny and speculation about things like their body language.
What it meant that President Obama called the former president of Russia,
Dmitry, but he didn`t call Vladimir Putin, Vladimir. Instead, he called
him, Mr. President. What could that mean?
International summits always have that high schooley, gossipy, human
interesting soft focus on leaders as if they are celebrities or something.
It`s just they are maybe dating or trying out for the same cheerleading
But in the case of this meeting with Russia, you didn`t have to just
go to the body language and what they`re calling each other. In the case
of this meeting with Russia, there`s something really important and really
unsubtle and concrete to watch about what was going on here. Syria is the
big domino in the whole Arab spring that nobody knows whether or not it`s
going to fall yet, right?
It`s been 16 months of internal warfare in Syria, with the strongman
dictator in charge there using military force against his own people who
have been rising up against him. Syria has almost no friends in the whole
world who are left still supporting the strongman dictatorship there as it
uses force against its own people.
I mean, Syria has Iran, which is an international rogue state and
which has no friends of its own, no credibility, and no pull on other
countries. They`ve got China which as a matter of course refuses to take a
stand on anybody else`s human rights or violence for fear of anyone taking
a stands on theirs.
And they also have Russia. Syria has Russia. And unlike Iran, Russia
is sort of thought of as being an international grown-up maybe, a country
that is in the community of nations. So, as Syria`s government using force
against its own people, you don`t have to be subtle and read the body
language here. I mean, there`s a big, concrete, specific, not subtle at
all thing to watch for this particular meeting while President Obama and
President Putin were sitting down yesterday at the G-20 Summit.
The big important thing to watch was not their eye contact, not
whether or not they used each other`s first names, rather it was this.
This is a Russian ship that is reportedly right now full of Russian-made
attack helicopters. A ship that was on its way from Russia to Syria, where
again, the government is using military equipment to attack its own people.
Seriously, Russia, now is the good time to send attack helicopters?
As of yesterday, as President Obama and Vladimir Putin prepared to
meet at the G-20, that exact ship was sitting 50 miles off the northwest
coast of Scotland, wondering what to do, wondering whether to continue on
The U.S. has been loudly complaining about this. The U.S. and the
whole West did not want this shipment of attack helicopters to go ahead.
Russia had been planning to do it anyway. President Obama and President
Putin are sitting down together in Mexico face-to-face in a two-hour
The ship is own its ways to Syria. It is rounding the United Kingdom
to come back around the bottom there and make its way toward the Middle
East, and what happens? The ship turns back. Coincidence with the meeting
between President Obama and President Putin and with a British company
saying they were pulling the ship`s insurance coverage which have been
provided by a British company.
For whatever reason and however they explain, that Russian ship full
of attack helicopters that was on its way to Syria is no longer going to
Syria. It turned back to Russia hours after President Obama and President
Putin`s one-on-one meeting.
Also, Michigan is shaped pie a hand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Is this a race? Look at
this. Slow down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, he`s doing good. He`s really thorough
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kind of the highs and the lows of being president and
campaigning to be president, right? I mean, there is a drama of what it
means to be president and there are the daily responsibilities of being
president and the kind of decision-making context it puts you in, and then
there`s the way you have to compete with that as a guy who is not yet
president but is trying to prove you can be.
This is not an enviable position for anyone running against an
incumbent president. It`s part of the virtue of incumbency, I guess. But
that high/low context is the context in which President Obama convened this
nationally televised press conference tonight in Mexico, and in which the
United States press corps tried to bridge the high and low, tried to bridge
that trip abroad for the president with what it means here for this
campaign here at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIANNA GOLDMAN, BLOOMBERG: One of Mitt Romney`s economic advisers
wrote in a German publication that your recommendations to Europe and
Germany in particular reveal ignorance of the causes of the crisis and he
said that they have the same flaws as your own economic policies. I wanted
to get your response to that.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, with
respect to Mr. Romney`s adviser, I suggest you go talk to Mr. Romney about
his advisers. I would point out that we have one president at a time and
one administration at a time. And I think traditionally, the notion has
been that America`s political differences end at the water`s edge.
I`d also suggest that he may not be familiar with what our suggestions
to the Germans have been. And I think sometimes back home, there`s a
desire to superimpose whatever ideological arguments are taking place back
home onto a very complicated situation in Europe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president speaking this evening from Mexico.
Joining us now, Steve Kornacki. He`s a senior political writer for
Salon.com. He`s an MSNBC contributor.
Steve, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
STEVE KORNACKI, SALON.COM: Happy to be here.
MADDOW: This is one of those days in which we have showcased what it
means to be an incumbent running against somebody who by definition is not
an incumbent. In terms of the political impact of what`s going on in the
international context, all these international pieces moving right now,
President Obama addressing a bunch of them tonight at this live press
conference – is this a power of the presidency verses a challenger moment,
as much as it is an Obama versus Romney moment?
KORNACKI: Yes. No, I think it is. I think this shows you sort of
the best you get out of being a president, especially in the situation like
this. Because again, the entire Romney campaign is basically premised on
the idea that the economy is down, economic anxiety is up, and because
Obama is the incumbent president, people will want to vote against him
because they need sort of – they need somebody to blame, and they`re going
to want to blame the guy who`s in charge.
So, that`s the basic downside of being an incumbent. And this is a
tough climate. But, yes, this is an example where sort of the optics as
you point out are really favorable to Obama and it comes in a week, too,
when I think Obama in a couple of other ways has demonstrated the other
powers of the presidency.
You think of the immigration announcement last Friday. You know,
that`s something the president can do that has a clear and obvious, you
know, political fallout. He can change the policy of his administration.
He can set policy for the country and he can do it in a way that in the
case of immigration accomplishes, you know, a political imperative and puts
the opponent on the offensive.
So, between the immigration thing last week and between, you know,
accomplishing something actually significant internationally, and just
being on the world stage like this while the Romneys are doing pastries,
you know, that`s pretty significant, I think.
MADDOW: They were doing pastries very, very well. They handled it
perfectly. He was excellent with the rolling pin.
In terms of the president`s argument in response to that specific
question, saying, you know, traditionally our differences stop at the
water`s edge, we have one administration at a time, bristling there,
essentially, at the Romney campaign having gone to a foreign publication to
attack the president on issues in terms of the way he negotiates with other
countries on the eve of the G-20 Summit, the president essentially calling
on the Romney campaign as a matter of decency and national interest to not
attack him in that way while he`s abroad.
Is that – that sort of a Beltway argument? Do you think that has
actually political weight?
KORNACKI: I think it can. And again, a lot of it has to do with the
setting. You know, for him to deliver a statement like that in this
setting, with all of the flags behind him and surrounded by the world
leaders, it can make Romney look small because the message you`re kind of
delivering is, I`m the president of the United States. I`m conducting
business of the United States over here. Some serious issues with
This is not the time to be dealing with this. I can come back home,
you can call me any name you want. Don`t be doing it this way when I`m
And I think there is – you know, there has been historically, I think
the political culture has changed and is changing a little bit. It has
coarsened obviously. But there has obviously been that tradition. That`s
not an empty statement he`s making about the politics stopping at the
So, you know, I do think – again, you know, the Romney campaign,
we`re going to criticize Obama for everything, we`re going to give him
credit for nothing. But there have to be some limits. And I think this is
one of the cases where they would have been wiser and sort of hold back.
MADDOW: And the president certainly making – I think it`s sort of a
Beltway argument, I think he`s appealing to sort of bipartisanship-minded
people in the Beltway who dominate so much of the beltway press corps to
say, you know, you ought to be calling out Romney for having done this
because nobody has criticized the Romney campaign for having that.
One further point on the issue of Romney versus Obama on issues like
this, I was really struck today, Steve, as soon as the Obama press
conference was over, and he spent a lot of time talking about the dynamic
with Russia and China towards Syria that I talked about the introduction.
As soon as the press conference was over, we get a vituperative tweet
from Senator John McCain, who is no longer running for president, who is
the last Republican nominee for president, who has been the Republican
Party`s tip of the spear in terms of attacking President Obama on wanting a
U.S. war in Syria, wanting the U.S. to get involved militarily in Syria,
including arming the resistance and beyond.
What does it do to Mitt Romney`s position as an authority on foreign
policy, as somebody who could credibly be commander-in-chief, to have John
McCain, still the guy who`s essentially holding the Republican Party`s
banner on this?
KORNACKI: Yes, I don`t think it does much because Romney has really,
the few things he said about foreign policy, the few positions he`s
articulated, he`s basically going for the I`m going to be as hawkish as
possible on all of this stuff. Now, he`s tried to duck the Syria
questions. You have McCain being more proactive there. But what he said
about Iran, Romney basically saying I want the military option on the
table, I don`t want anybody holding me back on this. He says my Israel
policy is go to be the opposite of Obamas, whatever exactly that means.
So the theme here from Romney has really been to strike a very hawkish
note, and I think what he`s trying to go for is this, the sort of
caricature of Obama that emerged really the moment he came into office on
the right. And that is he`s a weak president. He`s Jimmy Carter II, he`s
going to be the mockery of the international stage. You know, the country
is going to be ridiculed by foreign countries.
That`s the image they wanted to believe in from the beginning. That`s
the image McCain is sort of promoting here. That`s the image that Romney
has been promoting when he talks about how Obama goes into his world
And, again, you talk about the visual impact of this. Look at where
Obama is right now. Is anybody laughing at him there?
You know, so, you can take that and contrast it with this and that
does make a powerful statement.
MADDOW: I do think, though, that Romney, if Romney`s implicit message
is Obama is weak and I`m strong, for him to be proving how strong he is by
letting John McCain do all of his talking for him –
MADDOW: – is undercutting him. But we shall see. We shall see.
Steve Kornacki, senior political writer for “Salon”, MSNBC contributor
– thanks, Steve. I appreciate it.
KORNACKI: You`re welcome.
MADDOW: All right. Very, very much to get to on an unexpectedly busy
night in the news. Richard Engel is going to be joining us live from Cairo
with some important news on a story that has been confusing all day, but
Richard is right in the middle of it – and there`s nobody more qualified
in the U.S. media to explain what is going on there.
Also, Steve Schmidt is going to be joining us, to tell us what he
makes of the Republican Party`s insurgency problem, and Massachusetts
Senator Scott Brown goes somewhere I didn`t think he would go and I think
he should stop going to.
Please stay tuned.
MADDOW: We`ve got Richard Engel coming up live from Cairo. But I
also want to tell you, coming up later on the show, this is not the first
time I have thought it or said it, but I`m going to have to say again
tonight, what is Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown thinking? The latest
cause for pause from perhaps the strangest senator in the United States
Senate. It`s coming up.
MADDOW: On a day of international drama, with President Obama in
Mexico giving his big press conference, meeting with world leaders at the
G-20, with Syria`s last friends on Earth being pushed to the edge at that
summit, pushed to drop their support for the teetering regime in Syria,
that is well over a year into using military force to crush a revolt by
their own people, by a Russian ship of attack helicopters bound for the
Syria government being turned back to Russia.
On a day full of U.S. politics turning its eyes to the world, not just
the world economy like we have been, but to what is going on in the world
more broadly, on this day, this happened, too. This is Egypt. This is
Tahrir Square. This is now.
Tahrir Square, of course, the center of the revolt in the country of
Egypt more than a year ago. The revolt that toppled the three decade long
dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Hosni Mubarak ruled the Arab world`s most
populous country with an iron fist for more than 30 years.
Today and tonight in Egypt, these crowds filled Tahrir Square again to
protest against the continued military rule in Egypt after the presidential
elections there to replace Hosni Mubarak. And with those protests under
way, then confused rumors by Egyptian state officials and state media and
then from Western media that maybe Hosni Mubarak has died. Or no, that he
is somehow clinically dead but not otherwise dead, whatever that means.
Then, word from Hosni Mubarak`s lawyers that he`s neither dead nor
clinically dead, but he`s on a respiratory, and he is unconscious.
If you have heard anything definitive about this today, you have
likely heard something that is single sourced or confirmed. But even a as
we try to nail down the details, it is as of yet a chaotic situation in a
situation that is still deeply and chaotically in flux in the most populous
nation in the Middle East.
Luckily for us, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is
live in Cairo in the middle of all this. Richard has lived in Egypt in the
past. He`s covered the Egyptian revolution since last year. He`s there
now covering the election.
Richard, let me ask you first what you can tell us about these
swirling rumors today about the condition of Hosni Mubarak.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it`s good
to be with you, Rachel.
He`s had a bad day according to the reports. He`s had a stroke, he
has had a stroke in his heart, he`s had a heart attack. His heart has
stopped. He has been dead. He`s been in a coma.
These are all the different reports that have come out. The most
specific one was from the official news agency that said that there were
repeated attempts to revive him but that his heart had stopped and he was
clinically dead or brain dead.
We spoke to his lawyer who said that`s not true, who maintained that
Mubarak is in critical condition, but he`s still alive. And we`re waiting
now for a statement from the Egyptian military counsel which we expect is
going to say that he`s in critical condition, that he is alive, but we
don`t exactly know that for sure. And confirming he has been moved from
the prison infirmary to a military hospital. And that`s a step when people
are taken out of jail and sent to a normal hospital, even a military
hospital, when they`re nearing death or about to die.
MADDOW: And, Richard, is this the death of, the death of life of one
man at this point with Hosni Mubarak out of power, with the presidential
elections under way, and sort of resolved if not totally resolved in terms
of who will be replacing him. Is this just one man`s fate or does it have
intense symbolic importance, and even political importance in this country
still trying to grapple with what it`s going to be in a post-Mubarak era?
ENGEL: Well, I forgot to give you all of the conspiracy theories.
The conspiracy theories which were swirling today in Tahrir are that
Mubarak is perfectly fine, this is all a show in order to get him out of
jail and put him with his friends in a military-run facility, so that he
can be whisked out of the country and that the Mubarak chapter can be
closed while the military takes over the rest of Egypt.
There is an enormous power struggle right now between the military,
which is represented by itself and represented by Ahmed Shafiq, the
military`s favored candidate who today by the way, declared he won the
presidential elections, lest this weekend. And on the other side, the
Muslim Brotherhood which yesterday jumped the gun and said it won the
presidential elections which was the same conclusion by numerous counts by
Egyptian state media, which have also today proved to be quite unreliable.
So, as this power struggle is taking place, both candidates claiming
that they won – absolutely no trust between the Muslim Brotherhood and the
military – you see Mubarak suddenly whisked out of a prison facility and
taking to a military hospital. So his lawyer says he`s dying, in critical
condition but still alive. And Egyptians are trying to figure out what
this means in their larger struggle, which has very serious consequences
not only for this country but could risk potential violence in the next
MADDOW: And, Richard, you have been so articulate and so focused on
trying to explain to American audiences the importance of Egypt in that
part of the world, how important it is that Egypt – what Egypt`s future is
how determined it will be for that whole region, including for future of
In terms of how this resolves between these two candidates who are
both claiming victory here, what do you think the process will be that will
decide it? Is the going to be people in the streets that decide it? Is it
going to be the military counsel that decides it? How is this going to
ENGEL: Well, it`s supposed to play out like this – tomorrow, the
electoral commission will enounce the results of its findings of
complaints, and generally, before this whole brouhaha had begun, the
expectation was that they would dismiss most of the complaints, which have
been relatively minor at this stage, and then proceed on Thursday, the day
after tomorrow here in Cairo, I guess everywhere in the world, after
tomorrow, they would go and proceed and announce the final results.
Now that this has become such an emotional deadlock, it could be, and
this is just speculation, that the electoral commission will decide to slow
down this process. That they`re going to say, we`re going to examine all
of the complaints a little more, and we`re not going to announce as has
been expected on Thursday the results, maybe we`ll push it back a few days
to let some water pass under this bridge and to cool temperatures down.
If that doesn`t happen and Thursday comes around and the electoral
commission, which is the plan of now, comes out and says either Shafiq or
Morsi has bon and will be the new president, somebody is going to be very
One of these camps is going to be claiming fraud, claiming that the
election was stolen. If Shafiq`s group wins, the Muslim Brotherhood and
all of the people in the square today, who will be very riled up, they are
already promising a new revolution, and there could be quite violent
clashes and they`ll take the clashes up with the army.
MADDOW: Richard Engel, NBC`s chief foreign correspondent live in
Cairo tonight – as always, Richard right in the center of everything and
staying up into the middle of the night in order to explain it to us.
Richard, thank you, I look forward to talking to you about this in the next
ENGEL: Sounds good.
MADDOW: All right. Still to come, Senator Scott Brown has an
unhealthy obsession, which we`ll try to shake off like trying to shuck mud
off the end of a stick. And we`ve got the best new thing in the world
today – all coming up.
MADDOW: We do something on the show called the best new thing in the
world today, and it turns out when a person has to miss a week of the show
because they have laryngitis, there`s something ridiculous like that, it
turns out a person really misses having a brand new thing to look forward
to each day. I was gone for a whole week with this stupid voice thing, but
now I am back and we have the best, best new thing in the world on
tonight`s show – unqualified, great, totally apolitical news, something we
thought was going to turn out badly, but it turned out great.
It is awesome. It will make you happy. I`m so looking forward to it.
I need a new best thing in the world and we have one. Yay!
MADDOW: The great state of Nevada is one of the loneliest places in
all of America. Nevada is a seriously empty state, the kind of place a
tumbleweed might roll for a long time before finding so much as a great
lost horn sheep to cuddle up to.
Here`s the thing, though, it`s all about distribution. It`s about the
overall size of the state and the number of people in it. If you spread
around equally all of the 2.7 million hearty souls who live in Nevada, you
would have about 24 people in each square mile, enough to say, hey there,
hi there, hello there.
But the people are not spread around evenly in Nevada. They`re
bunched up in huge swaths of the state, there`s basically nobody. Look at
this map. You see all of the dark green? Dark green stands for around
square mile that has an average population of less than one. Tumbleweed
If you want to find people in Nevada, you have to avoid the dark green
part, which means, look, you have to go to the corner. You have to go to
the southeast corner of the state, to Clark County, roughly 3 of 4 people
who live in the state live in that corner county. And, frankly, even a lot
of Clark County is empty too, but the county is centered on Las Vegas where
the lights are bright enough to see so you don`t bump around in the dark
while looking for a tumbleweed or sheep to cuddle up to.
So, in terms of acreage, Nevada has plenty of it, right? In terms of
people, though, in terms of politics which are associated with people,
Nevada really mostly just has this one place, it has Clark County down in
the corner of the state. And in terms of a Republican Party, that little
corner of the state, Clark County, Nevada, has this – a billboard
proclaiming the new Clark County Republican Party, where George Bush begat
Mitt Romney, question mark, and Ronald Reagan gave the world the Ron Paul
When this freedom of expression from Republicans in the populated part
of swing state Nevada made national headlines this month, the official
Clark County Republican Party decided to try to distance itself from the
anti-Mitt Romney billboard, saying the billboard was not the party`s per
se, it belongs to a member off the party`s executive board. In their own
defense, they said they`re not even that concerned with federal elections,
even if they don`t like Mitt Romney much. Presumably, federal elections
include the presidential one this fall that the national Republican Party
is trying to win in part using Nevada`s electoral votes.
The question is whether or not Clark County Republicans in Nevada have
been taken over by the Ron Paul movement, the answer is yes. Does that
matter to national Republicans who really sorely, truly would like to elect
Mitt Romney and who would like Nevada`s help in doing that?
Well, you could ask that question about Iowa, too. Ron Paul just won
the majority of Iowa`s delegates at the convention there this weekend.
There will be 25 delegates plus super delegates sent to the national
Republican convention from the great of state of Iowa, and of those 25, 21
are Ron Paul delegates. So, who won Iowa in the Republican presidential
nominating race in 2012? Ron Paul won Iowa, and Ron Paul also won Iowa
going forward beyond this year.
In addition to the convention delegates, the new executive director of
the Iowa Republican Party is a Ron Paul guy, deep ties to Ron Paul. Also,
the party`s new organizational director, the person in charge of Iowa
Republicans` presence in the countries in this election year, also a Ron
Paul guy, a backer of Ron Paul.
And, hey, what`s going on up there in Alaska? Look, in April, Ron
Paul backers elected one of their own as the new party chairman in Alaska.
In May, following month, faced with a full-on Ron Paul revolution in the
making up in Alaska, the outgoing chair of the party who had been ousted by
the Ron Paul guy, he urged Alaska Republicans to boycott the state
Republican Party convention so they could deny Ron Paul folks a quorum, so
they couldn`t replace the chairman right now before November, so the new
Ron Paul Alaska party couldn`t take away Mitt Romney`s delegates for Alaska
and send Ron Paul delegates to the national convention instead.
In an effort to avoid that, the outgoing chairman in Alaska urged the
state`s Republicans to not show up at their own convention, to go fishing
instead. Literally, he told them to go fishing instead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: I would encourage all of you to make that day
useful because I understand that many people are not planning to be there.
I would encourage you to work on things that are family related or go
fishing. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Avoid the state convention, go fishing. That`s what the
Alaska Republican chairman told the Alaska Republican Party, and it worked.
This month, Alaska Republicans largely stayed away from their convention so
the Ron Paul revolution never got the quorum they needed, and in this
presidential election year, the new Ron Paul dominated Alaska Republican
Party can`t take over early. They couldn`t hold this convention they had
planned on holding. The Ron Paul crowd went away mad in Alaska, some
saying they had spent hundreds of dollars traveling to the event.
Beyond Clark County, Nevada, and Iowa, and Alaska, it should also be
noted that Ron Paul won a majority of the delegates for the whole state in
the state of Nevada and in the state of Iowa, and in the state of Maine,
and in the state of Minnesota, and maybe in Louisiana. We don`t have a
final result yet for Louisiana.
So even as Mitt Romney seeks to consolidate the Republican Party
faithful and steam toward the November election, the Ron Paul movement has
been seizing the Republican Party apparatus at the state level.
As of today, Ron Paul supporters are not only not falling in line on
Mitt Romney, they are suing in federal court, more than 100 delegates for
the Republican National Convention are suing the Republican National
Committee chairman and the state Republican parties, all of them, suing in
that court`s jurisdiction, and the chair of the parties, suing all of them.
The delegates allege that the Republican establishment improperly helped
Romney in his fight to win the nomination. They`re asking a judge whether
they as delegates will be, quote, free to vote their conscience at the
national convention, which I think they mean, will they be free to vote for
Today, Dr. Paul told CNN that he has neither encouraged that lawsuit
nor will he tell his supporters to knock it up. He says he`s in no way
ready to indorse Mitt Romney because he says more debate is good.
Now, oddly, the Republican National Committee has responded to this
lawsuit both by saying that it`s frivolous and by saying it needs a serious
response, which is a weird pair of answers.
At this stage of the campaign, even in states that Mitt Romney didn`t
win, Republicans are supposed to be standing up for the nominee, right?
Not suing for the right to support somebody else. Does the Republican
Party, particularly as a collection of state parties, does the Republican
Party matter? Does the institution matter? Does it matter if a bunch of
the state Republican parties are emphatically not for Mitt Romney and there
are instead for Ron Paul?
Now, in 2012, in this election year, does the actual machine that is
the Republican Party function in a way that`s going to make a difference in
the presidential election?
I will tell you that from inside National Republican Party
headquarters, we are told tonight that top Republican Party officials are
in fact worried about the way this is playing out and will play out. A top
Republican official telling us tonight the worries are about the
ramification for the 2012 elections, but also for beyond.
Joining us now is Steve Schmidt, Republican strategist, notably with
the McCain/Palin ticket in 2008 and also now an MSNBC contributor.
Steve, thank you for taking one on – taking this on. Thanks for
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You bet. Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Does the party itself matter for an election? In terms of
having strong state parties to turn out the vote and fundraise for the
nominee and deal with publicity and stuff, do the parties matter at the
state level or do you get around that with outside groups?
SCHMIDT: It`s a complicated question, and to a large degree, the
outside groups have destabilized some of the chief functions of the
parties, on the get-out-the-vote stuff, a lot of this will take place
through the third party groups. Now, when you`re running a presidential
campaign or you`re in the midterm elections and you`re working from
Washington, you want to be able to work with functional state parties.
The fact that there are dysfunctional and uncooperative state parties
is nothing new to the people who run both parties. And so, this is an
issue that the Romney campaign and the Republican national committee will
have to work around. But of course, the part y has ruled and the rules are
designed as you move into the national convention to make it very, very
difficult for insurgent state parties to go in there and cause to lot of
mischief and disrupt the flow of the convention.
So, at the end of the day, it`s probably not a big deal, but it`s a
hassle we`ll have to deal with.
MADDOW: If you were an insurgent in the Republican Party, if you had
a sort of long-term ideological view the way I think the Ron Paul folks do,
I don`t mean that in a critical way, just the way I think they`re oriented
– and if you were advising them and could choose between winning a state
party chairmanship and winning some sort of platform plank at the national
convention, which would you pick? Which would actually have more influence
on the direction of the party and the goals of your movement?
SCHMIDT: I`m not sure that either have a particularly big influence
on the direction of the party. So for example, when you have a state
chairman who takes over a state party and the state party`s dysfunctional,
it`s no longer relevant to the political goals of electing a majority,
whether that`s on the Democratic side or Republican side, you know,
typically you see something that is taking place in California, for
example, where you know the Republican parties become a small ideological
clubhouse, totally faded to irrelevance where they factions gather twice
every year to pas resolutions, denouncing the other faction, and it`s a
small clubhouse where people are relevant in the sphere of that small
clubhouse, but no longer relevant in terms of being able to shape the
outcome of an election – to recruit candidates, to raise money, to
register voters. And that`s the direction these dysfunctional parties will
And of course, the money will flow to places where it`s productively
put to use, whether that`s outside groups or whether that`s cooperative
county parties, and the people on a presidential campaign, they have to
deal with it, they have to work around with it. Sometimes there are legal
issues involved with it. They get lawyers involved, sometimes suits are
filed. At the end of the day, all of this stuff is usually able to be
MADDOW: I got to say, I don`t disagree – you know this stuff better
than I do having worked through it, but I`ve got to say it has to be
humbling to political pros that yes, actually, the party doesn`t matter at
all. The party matters if it`s going to work well, and you want to use it
as a place to work from. But if you don`t function at all, other people
will get the work done. It`s got to be kind of a humbling thing for the
pros in the field.
SCHMIDT: Look, capital goes to where it`s welcome. People in neither
party want to donate money where it`s going to be wasted, whether it`s not
going to have any productive function.
So, the state parties who become dysfunctional, that get out of the
business of trying to support the nominee, trying to elect them, they
usually wind up starved for funds and there`s a new chairman in the next
year or two.
MADDOW: Steve Schmidt, Republican political and public affairs
strategist and an MSNBC contributor, and a guy who lives in Nevada who is
neither a tumbleweed nor a big horned sheep – Steve, thank you very much,
man. I appreciate it.
SCHMIDT: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown gets weird again
in the exact same way that he got weird before. That`s next.
MADDOW: We`ve got the best new thing in the world tonight, straight
MADDOW: OK. Something weird is going on with Republican Senator
Scott Brown of Massachusetts, again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Just in case anybody who is
watching across the country, yes, they`re both available.
No, no. Only kidding. Only kidding. Only kidding, only kidding.
Arianna definitely is not available, but Ayla is.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop!
BROWN: This is Arianna. And this is Ayla. I can see I`m going to
get in trouble when I get home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And that was his acceptance speech for winning a U.S. Senate
When this previously unknown Republican Scott Brown won the special
election in January 2010 to fill out the reminder of the term for the
Senate seat that had been held by the late Democrat Ted Kennedy, the
Republican Party knew then that 2010 was going to be a good year for them.
They knew they were going to have a good midterm election that fall if a
Republican like Scott Brown could win that year in a blue state like
Scott Brown, as senator, has continued to be a cause celebre for the
Republicans and for their donors. He`s been a top beneficiary of funding
from hedge funds and Wall Street banks for example. And maybe it`s because
of all that national attention, maybe it`s because he has a different kind
of spotlight on him, as compared to other Republicans.
But Scott Brown has also been a really strange U.S. senator in terms
of his political tactics. If that sounds like an oddly personal way for me
to characterize the behavior of a public official, it`s because I mean it
that way. I mean it personally, because he apparently means it personally.
Just a couple of months after he became a U.S. senator, Scott Brown
sent out a national fund-raising letter saying that I was running against
him for his Senate seat. “Dear friends, it`s only been a couple of months
before I`ve been in office, and before I`ve even settled into my new job,
the political machine in Massachusetts is looking for someone to run
against me. And you`re not going to believe who they are supposedly trying
to recruit, liberal MSNBC anchor, Rachel Maddow.
I relish being an independent voice in Washington. The Democratic
Party bosses in Massachusetts disagree. They want a rubber stamp who will
vote for their plans to expand government, and raise taxes, someone like
Rachel Maddow. I just don`t think American can afford her liberal
politics. Rachel Maddow has a nightly platform to push her far-left
What about you? I`m grateful you are with me. Thanks again for
whatever support you can provide me, and I look forward in joining with you
in victories down the line. Sincerely, Scott Brown, United States
In other words, hello national conservative mailing list. Don`t you
hate Rachel Maddow on MSNBC? She`s running against me. Send money!
Now, of course, I`ve never run for anything and I never will. I was
never running against Scott Brown for anything ever, but he did not care.
He just made that up, he raised money off of it, and he never took it back.
Even after I ran a full-page ad in the Boston paper saying he was lying and
I was not running against him, he still kept saying it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: I`m going to continue to fight and do my job and work hard to
do just that. And, you know, bring her on. I don`t care.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: “Bring her on.” Bring on Rachel Maddow who is not running
against me. I want to say I`m running against her anyway, even if I`m not.
So, yes, when I say Scott Brown has been kind of weird as a U.S.
senator, that`s the kind of thing that I mean.
And now, he is doing it again. Seriously, it is hard not to take this
personally. The person who really is running against Scott Brown for
Senate is Elizabeth Warren, the middle class economics expert and so-called
sheriff of Wall Street, who founded the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau and thereby did not endear herself to the hedge funds and Wall
Street investment banks who have been Scott Brown`s top supporters.
Elizabeth Warren is running against Scott Brown, but Senator Brown has
been very reluctant to agree to a debate schedule with her. “The Boston
Globe” reporting that the senator and his staff have refused to meet with
Elizabeth Warren or her campaign to discuss debate invitations or dates or
terms for debating.
This week, though, Scott Brown says he would agree to a televised
debate with Elizabeth Warren, but he had conditions. And he said if his
conditions weren`t met, he wouldn`t do it. His conditions are, first, that
the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy not make an endorsement in the Senate
race. Seriously, that was one of his demands. And two, his second demand,
Scott Brown also demands that MSNBC not be the host of the debate.
MSNBC is not the host of the debate. MSNBC was never going to be the
host of the debate. MSNBC never even got asked about hosting the debate.
But Scott Brown demands that MSNBC be removed as the host of this
debate. And please send him money for him to run against his Senate
opponent, MSNBC TV host Rachel Maddow.
What is going on with Senator Scott Brown? Are other senators like
this? Is anybody else besides us at MSNBC having to deal with a sitting
U.S. senator constantly making stuff up about their hosts running campaigns
against him and saying we`re hosting debates that we`re not hosting? Does
this happen to other people?
Incidentally, the Ted Kennedy`s widow, Vicki Kennedy, says she`s not
agreeing to Scott Brown`s demand that she not make an endorsement in the
Senate race, so that particular debate is off. Scott Brown will not do it.
But honestly, regardless of that, what is going on with Scott Brown?
What is wrong with Scott Brown? Senator Brown, you are welcome to explain
yourself here on the show any time, particularly because you keep making
stuff up about me and this network. You are welcome here any time on this
show. You`re welcome even just to return one of our calls, ever.
MADDOW: This is a great best new thing in the world today. This is a
high school graduation, typical sight this time of the year. But these
young women are graduates of a school set up specifically for girls who are
pregnant or who have already had young kids. It`s a school that supports
its young moms with day care and with parenting classes, along with the
traditional fall academic load. It is not an easy school to run,
enrollment is never predictable, the student body obviously needs more
support than any traditional school.
But at this school, the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, it is
very much needed. And that is a fact that the Detroit school board
recognized when they kept it open when it would have been cheaper to shut
down Catherine Ferguson. This time last year, the very existence of this
school was in doubt, and an emergency financial manager in charge of the
Detroit schools decided that Catherine Ferguson Academy was going to be
At the time, the young women of the Catherine Ferguson Academy decided
they were not having it. They started protesting, including in some cases
getting arrested. We started reporting on their plight, on their fight to
keep this very ambitious school open. And in June of last year, those
girls and their founding principal, Asenath Andrews, they won their fight.
They kept Catherine Ferguson Academy`s doors open. They won.
And them winning that fight last year means that this is possible this
year. Yesterday, 24 young women suited up in white robes, they put on
their mortar boards, they got their diplomas handed to them by Ms. Andrews.
Ms. Andrews tells us that all of today`s graduates, all of the graduates
this week have applied for college, including this young woman, Ikea
She came to Catherine Ferguson Academy 2 1/2 years ago. She`s now the
mother of a 2 1/2-year-old son. She was the valedictorian of the class of
2012 at Catherine Ferguson. She`s going to be attending the University of
Detroit on a full scholarship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IKEA DOZIER, CFA CLASS 2012: Remember that our success is not ours
alone. It is tied into our children. By getting our diplomas here today,
we are giving our children a better chance at making it in this world. A
lot of us are only here today because of our children. So they deserve our
I`m not going to sugar-coat it. This journey we are all about to
embark on will be rough. We will want to quit and to take the easy way
out. But we need to promise ourselves today that we won`t. We are all too
smart, too strong, and too beautiful to quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congratulations, Catherine Ferguson Academy, class of 2012,
you would not be here had you not fought for it. And by fighting for it,
you won. Best new thing in the world today – many happy returns.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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